Interest for cycling in UK has increased significantly since coronavirus outbreak

In British cities such as Manchester, London, Brighton, Birmingham and Newcastle, many roads have been closed to cars during the coronavirus crisis and are temporarily only accessible to cyclists and pedestrians. Now that the COVID restrictions have been partially lifted, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called on those who can't work from home to go back to work and to avoid public transport if at all possible. He encouraged people to go to work on foot or by bicycle. All of this has resulted in a spike in bicycle sales.

Enorme toename in fietsverkeer door coronavirusmaatregelen
Extra wide bicycle lanes are created by closing several lanes for motorised traffic

Mobility transition in acceleration

Some of the measures that have been taken will be temporary, but the British government is committed to structurally improving the cycling and walking infrastructure. The first steps in the transition to cleaner transport in the United Kingdom were taken a few years ago. However, the coronavirus crisis now seems to be accelerating that transition. For example, on 11 May 2020, the UK Department for Transport announced a £ 2 billion investment in cycling and walking infrastructure, aiming to double the number of cyclists and walkers over the next five years. Various British cities have also announced major investments in cycling infrastructure. For example, the city of London unveiled a new Streetspace plan to give more space to cyclists and pedestrians  and reduce the pressure on the cities public transport system.

Bicycle shops open during the corona crisis

Bicycle shops were among very few shops that were allowed to remain open throughout the pandemic, partly thanks to the lobby of organisations such as Cycling UK. Good use was made of this continued service. The Association of Cycle Traders reports that 20,000 bicycles still have to be delivered and that the demand for bicycle repairs has also increased enormously.

Growth market for electric bicycles

Demand for e-bikes, which had so far been small in the UK, is also increasing. One of the parties that is responding to this is the British investment company Balderton Capital, which recently invested millions in the Dutch producer of e-bikes VanMoof. The Dutch Embassy in the United Kingdom keeps a close eye on the opportunities that arise in the UK for Dutch companies in the bicycle industry. There are opportunities for big, well-established bicycle manufacturers from the Netherlands as well as for consultancy agencies and innovative Dutch start-ups. Examples of start-ups that are starting to get a foothold in the UK are Cargoroo, producer of electric cargo bikes, and Urbee, supplier of electric bike sharing. These companies are participating in the Interreg project eHUBS, that also has Transport for Greater Manchester as a partner.

Contact the Embassy

The Dutch Embassy in the United Kingdom is happy to support Dutch companies that want to respond to the rapid developments in sustainable mobility. If you have any questions about developments in the UK, if you would like to receive a sector report or if you would like to attend a webinar where you can meet with delegates of British cycling organisations (for example, the Embassy is organising two webinars on cycling in June), please contact us via LON-EA@minbuza.nl.